Dental holidays: the trend we should avoid
Our expert in residence, dentist Gulshan Dhanoya from Honour Health, gives us the lowdown about the risks of going overseas for a smile makeover
By Gulshan Dhanoya
Why are people going abroad for dental treatment?
In my clinic, I see lots of patients who ask me for the quickest way to get ‘perfect’ teeth – just like the photos they see on Instagram, featuring the super-white, straight smiles of influencers and celebrities.
These photos are fuelling the fire of what’s known as ‘dental tourism’. Before the arrival of COVID-19, there was a growing trend of young people travelling to countries such as Turkey and Thailand for low-cost veneers, with the added benefit of a holiday in the sunshine. It’s likely that these trips will start to take off again as soon as restrictions allow. People are tempted by the attractive idea that they can come back not just with a tan, but also with a shiny new smile.
The risk with dental tourism is that many people might not be fully aware of what they’re getting into. They see tempting adverts on Instagram inviting them to get veneers and stay in a beautiful resort, but they might not think about the potential long-term cost of their dental holiday.
What are the pitfalls of going abroad for dental treatment?
It’s not possible to make one trip abroad and get veneers to last a lifetime. Even porcelain veneers need to be replaced over time, and more and more of the natural tooth structure disappears every time this happens. Enamel is there for a reason, and cutting it down during a destructive treatment process shortens the life of the tooth. Treatments carried out abroad may potentially be more destructive than treatments carried out in the UK.
The younger the teeth are, the riskier this is. Nerves in young people’s teeth are at more risk of damage during destructive dental work, and the chances of them requiring future root canal treatment may increase.
When going abroad for treatment, the countdown clock instantly begins. All holidays have to end at some point, so there’s the danger of making a hurried decision and feeling the pressure to go ahead with an invasive smile makeover without fully thinking it through.
What protection is in place in the UK?
Here in the UK, dentists must be registered with the General Dental Council, which exists to ensure that patients are well protected. Dentists have to produce extensive evidence of their training and have comprehensive indemnity insurance.
Regulation abroad is not always as strict as it is in the UK. If a patient chooses to go abroad, that treatment may not be covered here. Many dentists are reluctant to fix work that has been done abroad because of indemnity purposes. Dentists who do agree to treat patients may charge a lot of money to correct work they haven’t carried out.
Statistics from the British Dental Association (BDA) show that 29% of dentists surveyed have treated patients for complications from dental treatments conducted abroad. Out of these dentists, 60% said problems came about because the initial treatment was of poor quality, 59% because of infection, 56% because of pain and 33% because the initial treatment was clinically inappropriate.
Young people who go abroad for what they think is a low-cost option could potentially be paying a whole lot more for their dental treatment in the future.
What should I consider when thinking about a smile makeover?
A smile makeover takes time and dedication to achieve a beautiful, natural result. You need to choose a dentist who you trust, not only to have the skills and experience to carry out the treatment but who cares about the health of your teeth and is conscious about preserving as much of your natural tooth structure as possible.
You don’t have to have destructive veneers in your mouth to achieve a smile you’ll love. At Honour Health, we focus on a minimally-invasive approach to dentistry. Invisalign, for instance, is a really effective way of straightening the teeth using clear, removable aligners. Composite bonding is a process of adding resin to the edges of the teeth to improve symmetry and shaping, without causing any damage to the natural teeth. Our home teeth-whitening treatment is a safe, effective way to gradually whiten your teeth at home.
Don’t risk your smile because of a seemingly cheap, attractive deal abroad. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Interested in a smile makeover? Honour Health offers free consultations at its three clinics – in Jesmond, Stanley and Ponteland. Find out more here